Christmas trees get chipper

ALBANY -- It's a annual problem for most people: What to do with the old Christmas tree?

"Bring One for the Chipper" is a statewide Christmas tree recycling program that encourages residents to bring leftover holiday trees to local dropoff centers to be chipped. The program, which is part of Keep Georgia Beautiful, will mark its 20th year as hundreds drop off their Christmas trees to be chipped into mulch.

While other Georgians will be disposing of trees at dropoff points all over the state, Dougherty County residents will not have to look for a location any further away than their curbside, said Judy Bowles, director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful.

KADB used to host a "Bring One for the Chipper" program like many throughout the state, but suspended the practice because Bowles said it was no longer needed.

"With no extra effort on the citizens' part, they are already being environmentally friendly and participating in the program," she said.

Bowles said that public works already separates yard trimmings from household waste and mulches them in a separate landfill by state law.

"No matter what, they send a separate truck to collect yard trimmings like Christmas trees and put them through a chipper at the inert landfill," she said.

Bowles added that as long as residents put their Christmas trees by the curbside, public works will pick them up and take them to the Maple Hill Landfill, where they will be ground and combined with yard trimmings to create mulch.

"We are constantly looking for people to use the mulch," Albany Public Works Solid Waste Superintendent Daniel Whigham said. "People can come out here and get as much as they want for free. The mulch generated from various yard trimmings are often used by gardeners, farmers and homeowners for fertilizer and landscaping."

Anyone can pick up free mulch at the facility 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

"It works just like a fertilizer," said Whigham. "It has all the natural nutrients in it."

The Maple Inert Landfill Facility generates approximately 16,000 tons of mulch a year from yard trimmings.